Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nothing is as sacred as we want it to be when it's real

I'll preface the following with: I've always been accused of being oversensitive.  Always.  I figured this character trait would fade over time but it seems not to.  I usually chalk it to being my unique self; the personality God Himself gave me.  But, it also causes me a great deal of heartache that misses most people that are more dismissive of wrongs.

My latest personal tragedy is a confluence of factors.

  1. My newly married sister despite having said to my mother when she got married that they weren't going to have children ("they like their lifestyle the way it is") are currently going through their second round of IVF.  
  2. I learned of the particulars of that situation how I usually do in my family, third hand.  My sister told our mother.  My husband asked my mother and my husband told me.
  3. However, my sister did talk to me a couple of months ago about fertility testing and "how I had so many options if I just wanted to learn about them."  I told my sister that we were done with trying.  We'd tried a whole heck of a lot.  And I didn't want to discuss fertility treatments with her.  She sort of obliged.
  4. My mother dispatched my father several months ago and my husband two weeks ago to "talk to ATC about getting her eggs frozen."  I was and am livid.  Not only does it display a complete ignorance from my mother, her continued non-support of me is chilling (no pun intended).
All of this crap came to a head two weeks ago when I stupidly invited my parents along with my husband to watch me play semi-competitive basketball.  While I played my heart out, my husband got into a discussion with my mother about the particulars of my sister's treatment.  This is where the story gets fuzzy because somebody is lying here.  And it's not just any average Joe.  It's either the woman who bore me or the man I pledged my life to.

My husband said my mother asked him why we don't do IVF.  My husband replied that ATC won't do IVF because she's afraid it would be painful.  I didn't hear this from my husband.  I heard it from my mother yesterday when I went to confront her about her comments about me.  My husband, early this morning admitted he made that statement.

What my husband said about me is a bold faced lie.  And it is extremely hurtful to me.  He knows the reasons why we don't do IVF and pain and fear have nothing to do with it.  But he is much more willing to shame me than take responsibility for his own beliefs.

My mother denied talking to my husband about freezing my eggs.  My husband maintains that she did and what sense does it make he would lie about that?  When one is dealing with multiple lies, it can be hard to sort out the truth.

The feeling of isolation yesterday afternoon after talking to my mother and husband was overwhelming.  To say I felt like I didn't belong anywhere cannot be overstated.  I told my husband early this morning I felt numb.

I often wonder if the others who chose and are facing a childless life have painful moments like this?  Do their parents implore them to violate their morals in the pursuit of "happiness"?  How does anyone tolerate this kind of treatment?

I asked my husband this morning if he wanted to stay married.  He said he did.  But then paused and said he wouldn't want to keep me in a marriage where I was miserable.

I'm mulling that over.  I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around a relationship where partnership is neither recognized nor publicly presented.  How much disloyalty can be tolerated?    


  1. Hi Airing - oh, I am so sorry for the drama and insensitivity amongst your family. When my DH and I were in the midst of our IF struggles (prior to Elizabeth), my Dad did ask me point blank when we were out to lunch with each other - by ourselves, my DH wasn't there. I did tell him it was against our morals and that was not allowed by the Catholic church. My dad isn't Catholic, a non-practicing Lutheran, so I honestly didn't view it as him asking me to violate my morals, because I don't think he saw anything immoral about it. He just wanted me to be happy, he always has and I suppose he always will. I know he loves me very much and wants to see my desires fulfilled. But at the same time, I will say that he never asked again after we had that conversation and has always been respectful of how DH and I practice our faith. And I pray for my parents (both are non-practicing) that they will have a conversion of heart.

    I don't know the relationship between you and your mom, I mean, I have only gotten glimpses here and there, but maybe she doesn't see it as immoral.

    In regards to your husband, I am so sorry for all the confusion and miscommunication. I will be praying for you guys.

  2. My dad asked me if would consider IVF...sorry I left that part out.

  3. I am so sorry. IF just makes everything harder, doesn't it?

    My mom has asked me a few times why we won't do certain things or when we will try IUI and even though she is Catholic and I've explained to her why we won't do those things, she still asks. I know she wants to be a grandma more than anything and I think she just "forgets" (partly on purpose, partly not). I know she doesn't see it as black and white an issue as we do, and that makes it hard.

    I will be praying for you and your husband - again, IF just makes everything harder :(.

  4. I'm so sorry. I wish there was more I could say to help. I often get ask those questions from my non-Catholic relatives. I point-blank say it's against my beliefs and values. It's very frustrating because I think some of my relatives think I must not really want children because I won't go to those lengths. Again, I'm sorry that you have to deal with such disrespect. I hope your DH apologizes to you. Praying for you.

  5. We are confounding to people. We follow two of the toughest, misunderstood teachings of the church. These teachings are beautiful, yet hard to understand and explain in casual conversation to people who have no concept. Did your husband just want to take the easy way out? The few conversations I've had about it, I just sound like a complete freak to people. Maybe he was uncomfortable because it's your mom and it's a sensitive subject? I'm not trying to excuse his behavior, but give reasons for it. When you ask about painful moments in marriage- yes. We have them. My husband and I aren't always on the same page about things. We aren't naturally compatible. Our marriage takes a lot of intentional work. Sometimes that work is very painful. Praying for you and your hubby.

  6. I would feel really hurt too if that happened to me - I don't think you're being oversensitive. I'd especially feel hurt if my husband said that to my mother (about not doing IVF "because it's painful"). I sincerely hopes he apologizes to you, and maybe clarifies things with your mom? My family isn't Catholic and thankfully we haven't felt pressured to do IVF, etc., but I wouldn't be surprised if that day's coming.

    One other thought (take it or leave it): my DH and I developed some ground rules for dealing with each other's parents. Just in general, but it's helped a lot re: IF because my mom sometimes asks my husband uncomfortable questions when it's just the two of them, questions that I've passed on because I don't feel like discussing it. Our strategy is for my DH to beg off, saying that he appreciates her concern (start with the positive) but would rather not discuss it with her. (Latest example is my mom wanting more details about what treatments and tests we're doing - it's not that I don't want to share that with her, it's just that it's very painful to talk about. And it's wrong of her to try to get it out of my husband.) Anyway, I don't know if that helps at all. Like Rebecca said, IF makes everything worse! And in-laws can be difficult enough.

    Praying for you!

  7. My husband would be sleeping in the YARD if he said that about me - to anyone. I don't think you're being oversensitive.

    Saying that to my mother isn't really an issue, of course, because she's in la-la land. And I'm very blessed that my in-laws are serious believers who would never ask a question like that. From them, instead, I have to deal with them volunteering to pray another novena for me. I know that my sense of time is getting all wonky as I get older (I can't believe some of the "IF" bloggers now have pre-schoolers), and they're in their 70s. So I realize that they haven't processed SEVEN YEARS of treatment in the way that I have; it's not obvious to them that I am irretrievably done, all novenas finished, and the subject is closed. So I try to be patient, but it is not always easy.

    From non-Catholic friends, I get the "well, why haven't you tried IUI and IVF?" and the "because you really don't want kids that much, right?" is AUDIBLE. These days, I am pretty comfortable replying that, you know what, I don't want kids THAT MUCH, because THAT MUCH is insanity and if you don't believe it, do some poking around the internet. But I try to take those conversations as an opportunity to explain a bunch of things that are not widely known. That children have a right to be born as a loving act of their parents, and that I frankly have ethical problems with a lot of the invasive treatments the Church DOESN'T condemn, because I think motherhood is a vocation and all of this crap is unnatural. That selling your soul to infertility treatment - and that is about what it requires - cannot be any part of a Christian life, or an intentional and healthy life even from the point of view of a non-believer, and my soul is not for sale, thankyouverymuch. That IVF means frozen embryos, and often later destroyed embryos, and I would never freeze OR kill my children, at whatever stage of development. That IVF and IUI both mean doses of drugs that make what I've done so far look like child's play, that if I do that with my endometriosis I am pretty much asking for uterine cancer, and that in fact, though the medical community lies about it through its collective teeth, it strongly appears that IVF meds cause breast cancer (OF COURSE they do - think about what's in that crap!). That IVF and IUI both have much, much lower success rates than the average person believes, and that the more intractable your IF situation is, the LESS likely it is that IUI or IVF would work for you - even if none of those other considerations were relevant, it would just be an opportunity for me to set fire to $15,000 (per cycle), and I can think of a lot better things to do with that much money.

    I think the secular folks who ask stupid questions about ART don't know ANY of those things; they need to be educated - forcibly, and probably repeatedly.

    So that upsets me. But I save my white-hot rage for the IF girls who think that God would give me a baby - instantly, no questions asked - if only I demonstrated my holiness by visiting THEIR doctors. I believe they deserve punishment in eternity for those comments, but I will have to commit that decision to God.

    Last point: what your husband said (I don't want to force you to stay in an unhappy marriage) is a cop-out. The ONLY acceptable thing for him to say in those circumstances is: I love you more than anything in the world and I would never want to hurt you. I will do whatever it takes to make you happy. I am terribly sorry that I hurt you, and I want to know what I need to do to remedy that, and to make sure it never happens again.

    Obviously, I don't know the entire context, so maybe he said those other things too...obviously there's more to a marriage of many years than one snippet of a conversation.

    Praying for you.

    1. Hi Misfit,
      I love your comment, but I wanted to say that the latest research on IVF meds and breast cancer show that there is an increased risk of developing breast cancer, especially if you undergo IVF early, but it's not clear that this is a causative relationship. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/06/25/ivf-in-young-women-tied-to-breast-cancer/ Here's an actual journal article that shows no clear effect, but it does say that women with a family history may be at increased risk from IVF drugs: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16526416,

      Many infertiles who forego IVF are being prescribed the ovarian hyperstimulation drugs, estrogen supplementation (which is tied to breast cancer), and HCG, and I wouldn't want anyone to think that "IVF drugs cause breast cancer" without adequate evidence to support that claim.

      I will agree with you in that so many women put the pursuit of a baby above their health. Whether the drugs are prescribed a traditional RE or a NaPro doctor, women need to think really carefully about the fact that the long term risks of these drugs have not been adequately studied, and must weigh the risks accordingly.

    2. Hi there! I didn't want to suggest that the non-IVF drugs WOULDN'T increase the risk of breast cancer, so thank you for clarifying that. Obviously any unnaturally high dosages of female hormones will increase your risk of breast cancer; that's consistent with what we know of how women get breast cancer generally. My understanding is that IVF (other than natural-cycle IVF) involves higher stim dosages than non-IVF treatment, but my information is anecdotal; I haven't done IVF, and I haven't compared the numbers myself. My general thought is - take with a grain of salt the advice of any doctor who prescribes high doses of female hormones (or drugs that simulate or stimulate them) without mentioning that the possible side effects are serious (both short-term and long-term).

    3. It makes sense that non-IVF therapy would involve higher doses of stims. In my (entirely anecdotal) experience, women with normal FSH who are doing stims + timed intercourse with a NaPro physician get 2-3 extra eggs, whereas IVF aims for as many as the ovaries can possibly produce without going into toxic overdrive (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome).

      My RE didn't even mention side effects when she was trying to get me into therapy (first stims + timed intercourse, then a few cycles of IVF). My DH asked and she said, rather dismissively, "Headaches, moodiness, abdominal tenderness." I asked, "Ovarian cysts?" and she said, "Well, we want cysts; they are just extra follicles." YIKES!

  8. For those who are not close to me (e.g. my wonderful pelvic pain specialist), I say: "IVF would give me a 20% chance of success per cycle at a cost of $15,000 per cycle. I don't have insurance coverage for IVF. You do the math." It's not because I don't want to be judged, it's because the clearest point I can drive home in a few sentences is that biological parenthood is not of ultimate importance. It is not more important than being able to provide for your children once they are here, dignity in old age, and living responsibly, or any of the important things that DH and I would have to give up in order to gamble $45,000 on a CHANCE at biological parenthood.

    With friends, I have a more involved discussion that's more along the lines of what the misfit said above. Many people have no idea of what IVF actually involves (hyperstimulating the ovaries, harvesting the eggs, collecting the sperm, fertilizing in a petri dish), but when I describe it, many of my friends have been pretty horrified without any further commentary from me.

    I would be pissed beyond belief if my husband reduced my complex and fascinating (to me, anyway) ethical analysis to "Sarah is a wuss." (I know your DH didn't say that exactly, but that's what it boils down to.) I'm sorry that things are difficult with your husband, ATC. I pray that he can see how he's hurt and betrayed you and make reparations.